Tuesday, February 15, 2011

15 FEB 11: A Bunch of Cut-Ups

A stylist? For men's hair?! That sounds so wrong to my ears becoming increasingly surrounded by gray. I grew up with the old-fashioned barber. The man who had comic books along with hunting magazines above the chairs, charged $2.50 for a haircut - and who didn't stare at you afterward for not leaving a tip.

But those old-fashioned barbers are becoming old hat. My usual choice recently closed his shop in the Oakland Park neighborhood, apparently going into retirement. One business owner told me the barber had heart trouble - which is surprising, since one of those electric tools might double as a defibrillator.

I was surprised to find the Oakland Park Barber Shop closed the other day - but I needed a haircut badly. And thankfully, I was close to Fort Benning. Has anyone stopped to consider how base realignment should help Columbus barbers? There soon could be a nice "razor row" of homes near Cusseta.

One Oakland Park business owner recommended an alternative for getting a haircut - but I recalled a shop which offered cuts in the six-dollar range. So I drove in search of it, and stopped at Victory Barber Shop on Fort Benning Road. It's a "stand-alone" business between a Circle K store and Torch Hill Road - with plenty of room for paparazzi to interview stars walking out.

The six-dollar price isn't on the Victory Barber Shop sign anymore, but cars filled the parking lot when I showed up in mid-afternoon. In fact, a group of men stood outside the door. One older man waved me into a spot right in front of the door - but a young man behind shook his head no, and used a hand to make a throat-slashing gesture. No, I didn't need a shave....

"How are you doing?" the older man asked as I stepped out of my car.

"I'm confused," I answered. It beat admitting I was fearful - since the scene made me wonder if I'd wandered into a gang initiation. It wouldn't be hard to find sharp scissors, after all.

The older man assured me I should enter Victory Barber Shop, and I did without incident. It quickly became clear this was an African-American barber shop, as I was the only Caucasian man in the building. This was NOT a first for me - but I've concluded African-American barbers struggle with my sort of hair. I'm closer to Jerry Lewis than Jheri-Curl....

"How do you want it cut?" the older barber asked me.

"By you. With scissors." Shame on me - this sort of humor should NOT be tried on your first visit to a barber shop. He could misunderstand, and he's holding all the dangerous tools.

Judge Greg Mathis was on TV as my hair was cut, but the people inside Victory Barber Shop didn't really pay attention to it. A young man in the barber chair next to mine was slouching as if he was sound asleep. So they ARE working the students hard at Spencer High School....

Another young man stood up, complained about something relating to self-respect and walked out the barber shop door. Another person in a chair said out loud what I didn't dare say: "I didn't understand a thing he said."

One other customer entered Victory Barber Shop for service while I was in the chair - but all in all, I felt like I'd walked onto the set of a Tyler Perry comedy. I wasn't really sure what might happen next - perhaps the appearance of an overweight grandmother.

But the barber did reasonable service on what's left of my hair, then charged me ten dollars. I didn't bother pointing out the sign on the wall, which said haircuts cost eight. I paid in cash and went on my way. Next time I'll listen to that business owner in Oakland Park. Ranger Joe's only charges nine dollars, and the presence of soldiers would feel a little safer.

Let's slice our way through some Monday headlines now....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 69 degrees F. It was nice and comfortable for snoozing in the car during the lunch hour - and that's too bad, because that's part of the reason why I was late for a 1:00 p.m. appointment.

+ Columbus Police reported six cars were stolen on a cold morning, because owners walked away while warming them up. So much for the theory that criminals work late hours and sleep in. Instead, the early worm is getting the Firebird.

+ The River City Report revealed former Columbus Councilor Nathan Suber will oversee the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop on Veterans Parkway, when it reopens next week. Talk about a contrast! Julius Hunter wants to swing a gavel as Recorder's Court Judge, while Suber is happy with a mop and rolling pin.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer website reported St. Luke United Methodist Church Pastor Hal Brady will retire in June. It's not clear if he'll still live in Columbus - or at least close enough to be called as a character witness in Mark Shelnutt's next trial.

+ Former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod sued "Big Government" blogger Andrew Breitbart, over that video clip from a South Georgia NAACP event. She might have a case, if she's claiming defamation of character. But isn't this asking for trouble? Republicans could respond by demanding MSNBC show every speech by Presidential candidates uninterrupted.

+ Instant Message to WLTZ: I'll be looking for the check in the mail. Soon. Blog readers know where you got the idea for that special report on "Columbus Power Couples" [27 Jan]....

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